The search for the perfect Halloween costume can be a ghoulish task each year. If you want to include your pet in the tricks and treats, keep in mind that all costumes aren’t created equal.
Your pup might look adorable dressed in bat wings or devil horns, but consider its safety, personality and the costume’s quality before you spook it up.
Unmask their personalities
When deciding how to monster-fy your pet, take what it likes into account and what it can tolerate, says Los Angeles-based veterinarian Dr. Jeff Werber.
“Pet costumes, although adorable, may also cause stress, even harm, to your pet if not put on properly or not given a costume that matches its personality,” Werber says.
Kay Shoults, a retired teacher from suburban Cleveland, has three dogs and two cats and dresses them up for the holidays and just for fun. She’s been doing it for several years now.
“I have Halloween costumes—way too many—Christmas dresses and tees and patriotic wear,” she says.
But she definitely considers what her pets like and don’t like—and what they’re sensitive to—before dressing them up. For instance, Shoults’ Yorkie, Dolce, is feisty, she says, and that definitely has an effect on what she can wear.
“I try not to put her in dainty stuff, because it doesn’t fit her attitude,” Shoults says. “She doesn’t like anything that’s too close to her tail. She has a witch costume, and the lace touched her when she moved, and I took it off her.”
Some pets, especially cats, might dislike wearing costumes altogether. If your pet is one of them, don’t force it into a costume, says the Humane Society of the United States.
If you’re unsure how your pet will react, let it get used to the costume in stages. Wait until it’s ready before you move forward with another piece. Put the costume on the floor, and let your pet sniff it. Once it has gotten used to the costume, Werber says, let your pet wear it before the frightening festivities kick off.
“This way, your pet will know what to expect and not feel confused or anxious with a new change in its daily routine,” he says.
Size and quality matter
So, you’ve figured out Fluffy and Fido like wearing costumes, now comes the task of making sure they’re comfortable in their new outfit.
Costumes shouldn’t constrict your pet’s movement, hearing or sight, or impede their ability to breathe, bark or meow, says Erin Askeland, a pet expert and training manager at Camp Bow Wow, a dog day care with multiple locations throughout the United States.
Also, look at the costume’s quality to ensure it doesn’t have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces they could choke on, Askeland says. Make sure the costume has proper ventilation, so your pet doesn’t overheat while wearing it. Also, watch out for ill-fitting outfits that can get caught on furniture.
If a costume causes any issues for your pet, take it off.
“If your pet seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, don’t bother with the costume,” Askeland says.